Surgery patients suffer bed shortage fiasco

PUBLISHED: 16:16 13 January 2010 | UPDATED: 09:54 12 August 2010

PATIENTS undergoing major surgery were denied visitors for hours as they faced long delays due to bed shortages, a health campaigner has claimed.

PATIENTS undergoing major surgery were denied visitors for hours as they faced long delays due to bed shortages, a health campaigner has claimed.

Julie Mott was unable to visit her husband David at Princess Royal University Hospital, Farnborough (PRUH), for 10 hours while he had an operation to remove a cancerous tumour.

She was supposed to go with him to an admissions ward where the couple were told to report at 7.30am on December 21, but when they arrived, hospital staff said it was being used for A&E overspill.

He was then taken alone to be prepared in the recovery area of the surgical ward, which must be kept sterile and therefore cannot admit visitors.

Although Mrs Mott was told she would be kept informed of his progress, she only received one phone call at around 1.30pm to tell her that her husband had come out of surgery and was back in the recovery area, where she was still unable to visit him.

It was at 5.30pm, another four hours later, when her husband called to say he was still there. Some 10 hours after being taken away, Mrs Mott was finally able to visit her sick husband.

She said: "Why are they taking patients when they don't have the beds to look after them?

"This is about meeting targets. I didn't know what was going on. I wanted to visit him. It was traumatic. I am a strong person but I was angry and upset."

Mrs Mott, who has campaigned tirelessly in Bromley for better healthcare, has close ties to the hospital and had heard rumours that this situation had been ongoing for three weeks before her husband's surgery.

As the Times went to press, a spokesperson for South London Healthcare NHS Trust (SLHT), of which the PRUH is part, could not confirm if this was true or not, nor whether it was still the case.

Health campaigner Mrs Mott, who gathered 18,000 signatures against the closure of Orpington Treatment Centre which shut last month, said she is in despair at the way her husband and other patients were treated, claiming it is the result of poor management.

She said: "This has become like a dictatorship. People have to realise they have a choice and shouldn't just go along with what those with the power say. These are public servants.

"I can't fault the care that my husband received from the nurses and from the surgeons. But they are being managed very badly. It's frightening.

"I heard the admissions ward was being used for A&E for about three weeks before Christmas. They also have a ward attached to A&E at the PRUH.

"I bet they are kicking themselves for shutting Orpington Treatment Centre at the busiest time of year."

A spokesman for SLHT said: "South London Healthcare NHS Trust will investigate the complaint made by Mrs Mott regarding the treatment of her husband and will respond privately to her.

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